Cubs trade Feldman, Clevenger to Orioles for Arrieta, Strop, and international bonus money

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Trading season is officially upon us, as Keith Law of ESPN.com reports that the Cubs have traded right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-hander Pedro Strop, right-hander Jake Arrieta, and about $400,000 in international signing bonus slot amount.

It’s tough to have a good feel for how valuable the international bonus money tranfer is because there’s no real history of it to analyze, but for a rebuilding team like the Cubs anything that allows them to bring in more young talent certainly makes sense.

Feldman pitched well for Chicago, starting 15 games with a 3.46 ERA, and Baltimore was clearly in the market for veteran rotation help. It’s also worth noting that the Cubs signed Feldman to a one-year, $7 million deal as a free agent back in November, so they turned a modest short-term investment into what they hope will be some long-term value.

Arrieta was once a top prospect, but he’s been terrible in various big-league stints with a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings and is now 27 years old. Any notion of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm is probably long gone, but he may still be a useful starter or an interesting bullpen project. Strop figures to step into the Cubs’ bullpen in a middle relief role, where he’ll probably continue to struggle with control while flashing occasionally dominant raw stuff.

It’s an interesting trade, as the Cubs signed Feldman on the cheap and then flipped him for a former top prospect and a hard-throwing reliever, plus the ability to spend more on international prospects. Meanwhile, for the Orioles they obviously gave up on Arrieta ever living up to his potential and Strop was pretty expendable in the grand scheme of things, so they added a decent starter in Feldman for the second half without having to dip into their farm system.

Tom Ricketts says the Cubs don’t have any more money

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Cubs owner Tom Ricketts met the media in Mesa, Arizona today and said a couple of things that were fun.

First, he addressed the controversy that arose earlier this month when emails of his father’s — family patriarch Joe Ricketts — were leaked, showing him forwarding and approvingly commenting on racist jokes. Ricketts apologized for those serving as a “distraction” for the Cubs which, OK. He also said “Those aren’t the values our family was raised with… I never heard my father say anything remotely racist.” If you choose to believe that a 77-year-old conservative guy who loves racist emails — who once spearheaded an anti-Obama ad campaign that required a “literate African-American” as its spokesman — hasn’t said racist stuff a-plenty, that’s between you and your credulity.

More relevant to the 2019 Cubs is this:

The Cubs aren’t in the same position as some other contenders in that (a) they don’t have a cheap payroll; and (b) are not obvious candidates for the big free agents like Harper or Machado, but I still find that comment pretty rich for an owner of one of baseball’s marquee franchises in a non-salary cap league. If nothing else, it’s an admission by Ricketts that he, like the other owners, consider the Luxury Tax to be a defacto salary cap.